Narinjara News

Food Shortage in Sittwe State Prison

Sittwe, 29 May 03: 
The food shortage in the State Prison in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State in the western Burma has reached a critical point, according to a prison official who declined to be identified.

 In the face of the critical situation the prison officials have allowed the relatives of the inmates to supply food from outside by taking monthly bribes of between kyat 10,000 and 30,000 depending upon the nature of the sentence, he said.  For the prisoners of conscience the bribe is always bigger in amount.

U Maung Shwe Khaing (70) who has been imprisoned in the Sittwe Prison for three years for possession of the picture of the Bamien Buddha Statue on charges of ‘fomenting’ racial unrest soon after the destruction of the image by the talibans in Afghanistan in 2001 cannot eat the food supplied by the prison for its low quality and inadequate amount.  As such his relatives have been paying monthly bribe of kyat 10,000 to the prison officials only for sending food cooked at home to him, a family said to our correspondent.

A recently released prisoner told our correspondent that the prison, which has a capacity for holding 1,600 to 2,000 inmates, has been facing the food crisis for a long period.  But the authority has never bothered about taking any action or have failed to supply enough food for the inmates.  He also said that there are instances of death caused by prolonged malnutrition resulting from insufficient and inadequate food supplied to the prison, and that there is no statistics to the number of deaths.

He said that he has seen dozens of people dying every month from malnutrition and various diseases resulting from long exposure to substandard and inadequate food in the prison.

Many of the prominent politicians of the 1988 Burmese Democracy Movement including student leader Min Ko Naing have spent their prison terms in the prison.  #